I'm Tony Miceli, and I'm a vibe player in Philadelphia, Pa. I play, teach and I run

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Studying with a Teenager

I met Jonathan Ragonese a year ago at a summer camp at Univ of the Arts for high school kids. I had a group with the top musicians. Man they were killin’. Just because I knew they were young and they had tons of energy. I made them a challenge. That was to play Cherokee at 400 bpm by the end of the first week. Well Friday came and they were there. Cruisin’ at 400 bpm. They all did great but Jon smoked the tune. It was pretty incredible.

We’ve kept in touch during the year. I get text messages every day about what he’s transcribing. He DOESN’T STOP. So I asked him to put licks up on Larrys Improv Page. We call it “Lick of the Day”. And like it sounds everyday there’s a new lick.

I’ve given him another challenge and that’s to put up a years worth of licks by the end of the summer. 350 licks!!!

Each lick has the cd and track title where it’s from. I’ve added an link so you go there and buy it if you want. I want to also add a link to itunes. Just have to figure out how to do that.

It’s funny because the first couple days I just looked at the page. Then finally I printed out the lick of the day, went and bought the Billy Pierce CD (sort of advertising isn’t it) on itunes I’m getting addicted. Sure as webmaster I could go and print out every lick he’s putting in, but that’s not the point! Each day the “Lick of the Day” gets me to my instrument. I practice it in 12 keys and then mess around and try to expand on it. It’s got me thinking about phrasing, and lines. It’s really fun.

It’s a little strange I'm learning froma 17 year old!! How’s that for the ego. But Jon might as well be 40, 50, 30 or 25. He’s sort of ageless as you’ll see if you ever meet him.

I’ve been in a little of a rut this summer, so the “Lick of the Day” is really helping me.

I’ve heard students talk about not wanting to transcribe, or practice licks because they feel it will squash their originality. To me that’s silly. When I’m thinking about music I always compare it to the spoken word. After all we’re trying to communicate when we play. I learned how to talk by imitating adults. It didn’t squash my vocal creativity, it helped. Transcribing solos and playing licks can totally help your playing, as you will learn the language. Speak it how you want! Just learn it first, otherwise you’ll sound like a foreigner


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